The football squads from Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee enjoyed their first taste of practice in the Bahamas on Monday morning.
Each team had a full two-hour workout three days prior to the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, with WMU practicing at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium and MTSU practicing at the Roscow A. L. Davies Soccer Field near the stadium.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy today,” Middle Tennessee offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner said. “I was excited just to get down here and get out in this heat on the field. We’ve actually been fortunate enough to have good weather back home. (I was) real encouraged by the work we put in today. Now we just have to put one good one in tomorrow and start winding down and get ready to play.
“As long as you have a field and a ball, you’re ready to roll. It was good for us to get out here, perfect the game plan and continue to fine-tune things. We’ll have another good day tomorrow then wind down for Thursday.
“Practice was good,” MTSU senor guard Jaylen Hunter said. “It’s a little more humid but it’s all good. It was a great practice and we keep getting better.”
The Broncos came from a much colder climate, but also handled the heat and humidity well. Temperatures during the morning hovered around 80 degrees and humidity at 80 percent.
“It was sharp,” WMU defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham said. “I think the kids executed well today. The heat is definitely a little different from what we left in Kalamazoo, but they responded pretty well. I thought we had a real good practice.”
“It was a great practice,” Bronco defensive end Keion Adams said. “We came out with a lot of energy. We knew, even though being in the Bahamas, we still are here to play a game. That’s what we are here for. There’s a time to have fun and there’s a place to work and do our business. We got after it (today). There was a lot of intensity.
“Most of our guys are from Florida and the South. I don’t think it will be much of a problem [this week]. We prepared ourselves by practicing in our indoor facility and Coach Fleck pumped the heat up, so we’ll be used to it when game time comes around.”
Monday’s practices were the last intense workout for each school, as nearly a month of game preparation is close to an end ahead of Thursday’s Noon (EDT) kickoff.
“Like everything else there are positives and negatives,” Adams said. “It’s a positive that we get to study our opponent, we get to do everything that we need to do to get prepared. But, there are also some negatives. You take time off and you get away from hitting and you might not be as physical when the game starts. So, you have to get back used to it during the game instead of starting off fast. I think there are more positives than negatives.”
“Once you get on here, football’s football,” Faulkner said. “We took a lot of reps with the young guys (before we left). They probably took, I’d say, 50 live reps every day for about seven straight days. It was good for those guys to get out and move around in our system. They’ve been scout team guys all year and we’re counting on a lot of those guys to play next year.”
The players and coaches had time off to enjoy the Atlantis resort Monday afternoon and attended the Player Beach Bash Monday evening.